The Big Bang Theory may have started off as a bit of a gamble – would a sitcom about nerds be popular? But in the end, the series managed to become record-breakingly popular, running a whopping twelve seasons and nabbing multiple Emmys and a Golden Globe. Clearly, The Big Bang Theory did something right!
However, The Big Bang Theory wasn’t perfect. In fact, there were some pretty huge flaws that fans tended to overlook. Clearly, the great characters and hilarious jokes were the winners, and viewers were willing to suspend disbelief a little over the finances and relationships of the main characters. We’ve all been known to look past the issues for a favorite show – and these were some of the biggest problems with TBBT.
Unrealistic Financial Situations
Like a majority of sitcoms, the finances of the characters seemed just a touch unrealistic. Sheldon and Leonard seemed to have absolutely zero financial issues, and while they would earn reasonably well as physicists, they spent huge amounts of money on tech, collectibles, comics, going to comic con (every single year, when passes are hundreds of dollars each, and hotels are just as pricey), and eating out seemingly every single night. Penny, too, complains of being ‘broke’ and avoids her landlord when she can’t make rent, but can afford a similar apartment to the guys, and is always in brand new clothes and having nights out.
The Laugh Track
The days of the laugh track are dying (or possibly already dead), but The Big Bang Theory hung on to this sitcom convention – and it doesn’t really pay off. Most people find this kind of canned laughter (or edited live studio audience laughter) to be fake and offputting, and it’s a huge part of every episode. The decision to use this, when most newer sitcoms do without, was definitely an odd one to make.
Family Members Are Only Ever Mentioned To Further The Plot
This is another common sitcom issue, as the writers tend to keep focus on the main characters, and then bring family in and out whenever they are important to a plotline. However, this is still a bit of a logic issue, and a frustrating one. It’s difficult to believe that a super-rich family like Raj’s wouldn’t occasionally fly over to see him, or that his sister essentially only shows up to date his friend. Sheldon’s twin sister appears only three times in the entire show, and one of Leonard’s siblings isn’t even named. These are people who are said to have a decent (if not perfect) relationship with their family, yet they are never around.
Sheldon Would Have Been Fired
Sheldon’s behavior is repeatedly shown to be problematic, and he actually does get fired at one point – but there’s a running joke in the show that due to his brilliance, he is essentially allowed to get away with anything and keep his job. His demands, and his terrible way of treating others, are tolerated in a professional environment.
Not to mention that Howard, despite having multiple run-ins with HR over his harassment of women, also keeps his job… even though he is far from as brilliant as Sheldon.
The Token POC Character
While The Big Bang Theory isn’t as painfully white as many other sitcoms, it’s still difficult to believe that in Californa, a social circle would have as little diversity as it does on the show. Raj appears as the token POC character, but his race and cultural differences are often played up as a joke, or play into stereotypes. Most of the secondary characters, too, are white, and there are shockingly few (essentially zero) Latinx characters, given that the show is set in California.
The Cameos Are Unrealistic
Even in California, the land of the celebrity sighting, it would be unlikely that a group of friends would have quite this many connections to the nerd icons that they revere. Wil Wheaton becomes a regular pal of the gang, even coming to Howard’s bachelor party, and multiple characters from Star Trek and other major ‘nerdy’ franchises show up throughout.
Of course, fans choose to overlook how unrealistic this is because the cameos are absolutely amazing, and a treat for fans as well as the characters, but still.
Not Nerd Culture
While many of the jokes on The Big Bang Theory are centered on pop culture references and making fun of the gang for their ‘nerdy’ pursuits, most of this fell flat for people who actually consider themselves part of geekdom. The idea that scientists and fans of Star Wars are all unfit, socially awkward men who can’t get girlfriends and don’t know what to do at parties is frustratingly incorrect. It’s ironic, in fact, that the show managed to reach the heights of popularity that it did because nerd culture has become so mainstream… and yet, it portrays a version of nerd culture that is the furthest thing from mainstream, or realistic.
Wildly Unrealistic Storylines
For the most part, The Big Bang Theory stays pretty realistic, focusing on the gang’s career tribulations, love lives, and friendships. However, there are times when it likes to go off the rails, like when Howard was sent into space. Engineering talents aside, a man with so many health issues (and with such severe anxiety and issues with social skills) would hardly be a candidate for space travel. It’s not the only unrealistic storyline that was jarring for viewers, but it was certainly one of the worst ones.
Huge Number Of Continuity Errors
At multiple times throughout the series, one-liners and jokes contradict earlier information that the characters have given. Whether it’s about allergies, arrest records, first kisses, or something else, many of the details just don’t line up. In a lot of sitcoms, little things can be explained away by bad memory, but Sheldon has an eidetic memory in the show, so he should definitely not be misremembering how many times he’s been arrested, and it’s not possible to misremember an allergy to cats!
The Jokes Are Often ‘Wrong’ Pop Culture References
One of the biggest frustrations for geeks and nerds watching the show (other than the unrealistic portrayal of the subculture) is that many of the comic book and pop culture references are actually incorrect. For example, when trying to convince Penny to dress up as Wonder Woman and put on a brunette wig, Sheldon shouts through the door that ‘in no universe’ is Wonder Woman a blonde. Of course, as any fan knows, this is flat-out untrue. As a show about nerds obsessed with the details on this kind of comic book lore, more effort should really have been put in to make sure it was actually correct!